Photographer expands into photo booth business with support from ECDI

Shawn Weese unofficially started his photography business, Weese Photos, in 2006. When he reached his capacity and wanted to expand by opening a studio and purchasing a photo booth to rent out for events, he approached Huntington Bank for a small loan. They sent him to the Economic and Community Development Institute.

Huntington Bank has partnered financially with ECDI since the organization’s inception and has invested more than $1.75 million in loan funds into ECDI to serve its Central Ohio market. While banks’ underwriting criteria often prevent them from lending in the smaller amounts required by many of ECDI’s small business clients, they are happy to refer them to ECDI to get loans they are unable to provide.

With one-on-one assistance and a loan from ECDI, Weese was not only able to make Weese Photos official in 2011, he was able to open a small studio, purchase a photo booth, and expand his marketing efforts. In 2012, Weese Photos’ event bookings increased by 36 percent from 2011. That growth, along with 32 photo booth bookings, has substantially added to the business’s bottom line.

Weese Photos offers wedding photography, as well as senior photos, family and engagement portraits, professional headshots, and commercial photography. When talking about his business, Weese oozes fun and laughter, which makes sense considering his photographic philosophy.

“Weese Photos is all about having fun,” he says. “Real laughter leads to the best photos.”

In that vein, Weese Photos has started doing Trash the Dress portraits, an up-and-coming genre of wedding photography that includes things like shooting a bride wading with her dress into the ocean to covering the dress with bright splatters of paint and taking a photo of it as art.

Today, Weese is figuring out how to maintain creative control of the business while continuing to grow. In 2012, he anticipates launching his own line of affordable photo booths, which builds on a traditional photo booth design by adding enhancements he and his clients have identified while using his current booth.

To discuss your photography needs, contact Shawn Weese at 740- 405-7039. To view his portfolio, visit WeesePhotos.com.

For more information about ECDI’s small business loan program, which provides loans up to $100,000 to businesses throughout Ohio, contact ECDI at 614-559-0115 or visit  ECDI.org/programs/Microloan/.

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Amy Szabos foray into microenterprise development began in graduate school as she researched microfinance as a response to human trafficking and poverty. She holds a master's degree in Slavic and Eastern European Studies from The Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University. From 2002 to 2004, Amy did humanitarian work in the former Yugoslavia, helping Kosovar Serbs who had been resettled in Belgrade Serbia after the Balkan wars. She also spent time in Athens, Greece, where she designed and built a human trafficking resource and response kit targeted for use by a humanitarian organization with staff throughout Eastern Europe. Amy is the Economic and Community Development Institutes resident wordsmith (aka Director of Communications and Development). She is happy to spend her days applying what she learned about microenterprise development as a poverty alleviation strategy internationally to her hometown. In her (vanishingly-small) spare time, Amy is a voracious reader, trained labor doula, part-time craftswoman, and full-time stepmother.